Broadway Musicals and Al Gore

I like all kinds of live theatre, but I am particularly fond of musical theatre  – what many people call “Broadway musicals”.  I like musicals so much that I read books about them, listen to cast albums, and attend performances at all levels, including local high schools.  I follow many musical-related sites on Twitter; my favorite is @DailyShowtune.

Unfortunately, I am also hyper-critical, which sometimes makes it very difficult to enjoy watching shows.  If a musical takes place in 1958, like Bye, Bye Birdie, and the actors are wearing 1995 shoes, I go a little berserk.  Don’t even think about using a 1960’s radio as a prop in a show set in the 1940’s.  I don’t like the concept of  jukebox musicals (musicals that are written around a song catalog of one artist, like Jersey Boys) at all.  When I see these things, I see so much red that it is hard for me to concentrate on the rest of the show.

So when I am squirming in my seat, trying to ignore Emile de Becque (you know, the guys who sings Some Enchanted Evening)  wearing a Detroit Red Wings tie in a local community theatre production of South Pacific (yes, this really happened), I take a deep breath and say to myself:  What can I find to really LOVE about this show?

Inevitably, I will find something I really love – like the costumes, or a particular performance, or the sets.  Turning aside my critical feelings and finding the good stuff – it’s always there somewhere – keeps me in my seat for the whole show, even though the accepted theatre-goers response to show dislike is to get up and leave.

So what does this have to do with Al Gore? Or HR?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced that Al Gore was going to be the featured speaker at their big, brassy annual convention in San Diego in June 2010.  There was an immediate amount of backlash and negative discussion prompted by his selection, including negative bloggers and a highly critical discussion on LinkedIn.  Many people said they would not go to his speech, or to the convention itself, because of his selection.

See the connection?  These people are letting this one small piece of hyper-criticism destroy their love of the whole.  And if they don’t love the whole, why do they care if Al Gore speaks or not?  I hope these people re-evaluate their positions and decide that it is not worth walking out on SHRM Annual just because they don’t like or agree with Al Gore and/or his politics.  If they LOOK FOR SOMETHING TO LOVE, even in his speech,  I bet they’ll find it.  Maybe he’ll be wearing great shoes.

Audience walks out – why do they come back?


Last month I had a contest on this blog.  The title of the blog was “The Social Media Ladder“, and I offered to give away $100 in a random drawing to someone who helped me out by commenting, tweeting, and otherwise mentioning my blog.

The contest winner was Krista Francis, an HR pro from the D.C. area that I got to know on Twitter.  You can watch my announcement video below (which I previously posted on HR University but neglected to post on this site).

Krista was sent her book and $100 cash prize.  Then I received the following email from her detailing how she spent that money:

Thank you again for the opportunity to win $100 in your social media ladder contest. But as thrilled as I was to win, I had the unsettling feeling that I didn’t especially deserve it. Winning was a matter of chance, after all.  As difficult as 2009 was for so many, most of us at least have the bottom rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs covered: safety, security. Food. A roof. Clean water. Family.

Africa-born and raised, I know the things we take for granted are not necessarily givens in much of the world. So when your $100 fell into my lap, I decided to pass it on to others in greater need, specifically women and children who make up the vast majority of the extreme poor in the world.

The first $25 went to Along with dozens of others, we helped Evelyn in Nigeria secure a $1000 loan to buy more inventory (cloths, sarongs) for her market stall. When she repays the loan, I will lend the principle to another small entrepreneur trying to better his/her life. I also donated a 15% surcharge, or 3.75, to help meet Kiva’s administrative charges.

The second $25 we donated to the employee recognition fund at Jubilee Association, the nonprofit where I work. Jubilee serves people with developmental disabilities, but you may be interested to know that we didn’t choose to direct the donation to them. As the human resources director, I preferred to designate the monies for the employee recognition fund. Our staff work very hard, sacrificing much, for meager wages and little prestige. Indeed, $25 seemed a tiny amount, which is why I give the rest of my life to this cause.

Next, $20 went to Heifer International. Our gift will provide a flock of baby chicks to a family in the developing world. The chicks will grow into chickens, which will provide eggs, which will provide food and revenue. Bonus: as part of the program, the recipient is required to pass on some chicks to someone else so that they can start their own flock.

The next $25 went to Global Mission,which provides education and care to orphans in Jos, Nigeria, where I was born.

That leaves $1.25. I gave $2.00 to a homeless woman huddling against the 20 degree weather on the corner of Democracy & Old Georgetown in Bethesda.

So there we go. $100 given away in five days. A fun and gratifying exercise, though one that left me with the aching knowledge that I had omitted so many noble causes: clean water, violence against women, child exploitation, literacy, health care, and so many more.

Wow.  Here is a woman who gets a $100 windfall and promptly gives it away.  Then, this past week, I received a message from her saying it was too bad, given the events in Haiti, that she had already donated the money elsewhere.

I’m proud to know this person and happy that she won my little contest.



In all of my lengthy professional life, I had never been to a conference. I had been to plenty of trade shows and training seminars, but a conference – where people actually talked to each other and exchanged ideas – was outside of my experience.  Now that I am unemployed, why am I preparing to sign up for two very expensive HR conferences, spending a fortune in travel, lodging, and meals on top of the registration costs, and considering several more?


Jim Mitchem, whose Twitter name is @smashadv, said it best: The best part of Twitter is the humility that comes with realizing that you’re *never* the smartest person in the room.

When I got really involved in Twitter late last summer, I learned that there was a whole group of highly intelligent HR and recruiting pros online that were willing to share their knowledge and insights.   When some of those pros hosted an “unconference” called HRevolution, with the idea that the exchange and engagement from Twitter would come alive, I knew I had to go.

HRevolution was electrifying for me. It was a non-stop exchange of ideas about a profession amongst highly intelligent practitioners, and I was instantly addicted. Now I crave more, because

There are BRILLIANT people that speak at these events—and even MORE brilliant people that are present and networking. MANY of these people have not joined the dialog in our beloved Social Media—but that means NOTHING about the level of knowledge and expertise they have to offer.

That quote, from‘s Eric Weingardner (@ewmonster on Twitter), says it all for me.  I’m going to start out with the Employment Law &  Legislative Update given by SHRM, then attend HRevolution in May.  I’m taking advantage of early registration for SHRM 2010, their June annual conference.  I’m sure there will be more along the way, and I am happy to take suggestions.

How about you?  Want to plug your HR Conference or talk about your conference plans?